Italian Studies Research Seminar | The New Political Language in Italy between Populismo and Sovranismo
Department of Italian Studies Research Seminar Series
The New Political Language in Italy between Populismo and Sovranismo
Francesco Sberlati, University of Bologna
This seminar will be conducted in Italian.
In recent times, Italy is often presented as a showcase of populist politics. In the latest parliamentary elections, half of the Italian electorate voted for parties that have been labelled populist and sovranist. Characterized by anxieties, uncertainties and widespread fear, they seem to exhibit important features: the destruction of traditional symbolic codes, the appeal to common sense against politicians and intellectuals, the return to authentic communitarian traditions and reliance on charismatic personalities. This new political horizon gave origin to a new political language. Since political actors can shape and re-shape their rhetorical style more easily than their official ideology, the most important implications concern language and lexicon, with an astonishing variety of neologisms, frequently correlated to the growing migratory pressures. In Italy today, the public speeches of political leaders define the discursive style of populism as a rhetoric that constructs an ethical struggle between la gente [the people] and the powerfull oligarchy, that is the people versus the elite. The lecture will attempt to provide an institutional explanation as to why Italy, more so than other Western European democracies, has experienced such diverse forms of populism and consequently diverse strategies of political communication, especially the proliferation through the mass media of provoking words and expressions that are supposed to support these successful antipolitical orientations.
About the speaker
Francesco Sberlati is Professor of Modern Italian Literature at University of Bologna, Italy. He has been Visiting Professor at University of Notre Dame, Brown University, Boston University, Stanford University. He is member of various scientific journals’ Advisory Board. He has written extensively on the relationship between politics and literature in XVI-XVIII centuries as well as on the role of power structures in Italian literary tradition during Renaissance and Baroque age. His research focuses on courtier and flatterer literature in Ancient Régime (see his recent essay “Il buon poeta è il più bugiardo”. Adulazione e falsità nella letteratura barocca, in J.A. Cavallo – C. Lottieri, eds., Speaking Truth to Power from Medieval to Modern Italy, “Annali d’Italianistica”, 34, 2016), and he has published books and essay on national identities, gender studies, women’s history, verbal and visual representation of social habits in Renaissance and Counter-Reformation, circulation and fortune of Italian literature in Europe. His latest book is L’infame. Storia di Pietro Aretino (Venice 2018).
For more information, contact: A/Prof Francesco Borghesi – firstname.lastname@example.org